The Thread Group consists of a number of smart home industry leaders interested in bringing all the stakeholders together to solve the problem of IoT devices inability to effectively get along with one another. The Thread board consists of heavy hitters such as Google(Nest), Somfy, Siemens, Qualcomm and ARM among others.

 

The Thread Group acts as a lobbyist focused on educating the IoT market including manufacturers and developers, about the benefits using Thread. The group hopes that expanding awareness will help increase adoption of the protocol If so, the advantages of a universal protocol can be shared by all parties.

 

The current list of members in The Thread Group is essentially the “who’s who” of the smart home world. Even the Catalina Wine Mixer invitees would be impressed. As of today, the list includes Google(Nest), Amazon, D-Link, Eero, Kwikset, Samsung, Somfy, Yale LG, Lutron, Bosch, Yale, Tado and Signify (which was formerly Philips Lighting).

 

Members of the group have significant influence as they’re able to approve things in the group’s budget, have a director on the board, and first rights to testing the technology before it goes to market.

 

Additionally, mom-and-pop shop, Apple, joined The Thread Group in August of last year. With Apple in the mix alongside Google and Amazon. The 3 biggest players in the smart home space are now all members of The Thread Group.

 

Adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) in the home

 

Meet the needs of connected home products. Thread technology doesn’t rely on WiFi or the home internet connection. It sets up a separate home network, secure and reliable mesh network with no single point of failure. (mesh network like Zigbee and Z-Wave)

 

This allows devices to independently communicate amongst themselves.

 

Thread uses AES encryption, which establishes a more secure environment that other networking protocols used today. To be clear, Zigbee and Z-Wave also use AES encryption, but Thread uses a banking-class, public-key cryptography to back it up.

 

SUpports over 250 devices with multiple hops. Uses the shortest possible messaging between devices to conserve power.

 

Low power wireless connectivity. Thread networks are easy to setup and implementation typically only takes a few minutes, and can be done from the convenience of a smart phone, tablet or computer.

 

With Thread, connect devices to each other, and to the internet.

 

Millions of wireless devices, that’s right Bob...I said MILLIONS of wireless devices can run Thread with a simple software upgrade.

 

Thread was designed from the ground up to have very low power consumption, allowing devices to have years of operation with even just a AA battery in many cases.

 

Thread is pushing a standard to solve the most challenging problem with smart home adoption today, the interoperability of smart devices.

 

One of the great things about Thread is that unlike Zigbee and Z-Wave, Thread doesn’t require a hub to connect devices. This created a mesh network without a single point of failure. So if one device goes down or becomes spotty, the rest of the devices will self-heal and continue to function properly on the network.

 

Thread is interoperable by design. It uses open standards like IPv6 and a 6LoWPAN foundation. In other words, all your devices will be able to talk with one another regardless of the manufacturer.

 

Most smart home enthusiasts have become familiar with getting devices to seemingly talk with each other using routines with services like HomeKit, IFTTT, Alexa and Google Assistant. These services basically act as remotes which do a good job of creating what appears to be a seamless environment.

 

Historically speaking, Google’s Nest has had a significant influence at all levels of the group. Nest products had been using a combination of Thread, WiFi and Bluetooth since way back in 2016. This obviously creates a conflict of interest if major competitors Amazon and Apple find themselves pushing Thread as a Google backed standard. With Google’s recent sunsetting of the Nest platform this summer (link to my post), it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Stay tuned for the play-by-play...

 

Thread simplifies this cadence even further by allowing devices to talk directly with each other without the need of the middleman hub or service. It’ll be interesting to see how his changes the landscape in the days ahead. It seems likely that in the near future, hubs will become obsolete if a device brand agnostic mesh protocol becomes the standard. It’s an ambitious goal on The Thread Group’s part, but should it successfully become the incumbent wireless standard for the smart home, it will solve the primary problem we see today in enabling the inevitable adoption of the connected home for the mainstream homeowner population.

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